The Kapakapanui Loop Track

The Kapakapanui loop is a strenuous day walk or a good overnighter. Located at the southern end of the Tararua Forest Park, it offers breathtaking views of Kapiti and the peaks of the southern crossing route.

With its ever-changing scenery, it has a bit of everything…cool running streams, gut-busting climbs, stunted mossy trees, and open tops. Making it the perfect challenge for the serious tramper. Just 15 minutes drive from Waikanae, allow 6-8 hours to complete the circuit.

Route Description

This walk begins with a short wander over private land to the Ngatiawa River. From this point cross the river and follow the track upstream for about 15 minutes crossing the river 3 more times.

Once at the track junction, the loop can be walked in either direction. The most direct route to the top of Kapakapanui is in the anti-clockwise direction which I will describe here. For walkers with dodgy knees, this would be the better way to go.

From here the fun begins with a gut-busting 900m climb. The first part of the climb is steep and then levels off before entering another steep section which leads into the stunted mossy trees. This goblin forest is a particular highlight and on misty days can appear quite eery. From here the track climbs gently to the summit at 1102m.

From the summit, there is a rewarding open-top section of about 30 minutes, this is very easy to traverse offering outstanding views of Kapiti, Mt Hector, the southern crossing, and neighboring peaks. I suggest doing this on a fine day!

Once back into the bush it’s a 20 to 30-minute descent to Kapakapanui Hut. A 6 bunk hut in a beautiful bushy setting and used by many as a lunch stop.

Beyond the hut, the track descends gently through beech and mamaku forest. The final descent of 400m is steep and leads into a stream that is crossed a number of times rejoining the track that was accented at the beginning of the walk. Return to the road end via the Ngatiawa River.

Getting there

From Waikanae, follow Reikorangi Road and turn into Ngatiawa Road. From the Hutt Valley, follow Akatarawa Road and turn into Ngatiawa Road. Carry on for another 3 – 4 km to the road end.

What to Take

These items pretty much live in my day pack. For more info on what to take tramping check out my post on what to take.  

  • Water
  • Food
  • A waterproof jacket or raincoat
  • Sturdy and comfortable footwear
  • Thermal and fleece clothing for warmth
  • Hat and gloves
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • An Emergency First Aid Kit
  • A Map and GPS 


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Learn more about NZ’s amazing walks!

Interested in seeing more of the country’s incredible natural beauty? Take a look around the website to learn about other outdoor adventures, such as the Mueller Hut Walk. It’s the only way to truly see New Zealand!

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